Writing in volume, on a daily basis, is not an easy gig. I know we all like to look at, for example, the Chicago Cubs’ beat writers and say, “dude, I could totally do that. They have the best jobs in the world. How hard could it really be to write about the Cubs?”
Well, I happen to believe – and not just because I also write about the Cubs for a living – that it’s a really hard job. Can you imagine trying to get yourself up to write a game recap for a random September six-run loss to the Nationals? I can’t (which, incidentally, might be why I don’t do traditional game recaps…).
Sincerely: I give the beat writers all the credit in the world. If they didn’t do what they do, I probably couldn’t do what I do.
So, with that mindset, I tend to cut them a lot of slack for mistakes here and there. They’re bound to happen with the volume of material they churn – I know I’ve made my fair share.
But I couldn’t possibly let this one go.
In an article about Matt Garza’s future with the Cubs and his tough luck performances this year, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times writes this (emphasis added):
Garza, who tries tonight to pitch the Cubs to a fourth straight victory for the first time this season, has given them reason to be happy, and not just because of the quality of his pitching. It’s also how he responded to four would-be wins being blown by the bullpen, how he handled being shut out in three other starts and how he dealt with being victimized by shoddy fielding in three other starts (even if some of the fielding problems were his own).
‘‘It’s just one of those things. Luck, whatever you want to call it,’’ Garza said after another weird one Saturday in St. Louis. He pitched well into the fifth inning, when he allowed four guys to reach base with one out. Then he was lifted and watched the Cubs unravel on a controversial takeout slide by Matt Holliday.
‘‘It’s happened more than once, so I don’t really think it’s luck anymore,’’ Garza added.
That would indeed be another example of the hard luck in Garza’s starts – who can expect that a totally bush league slide is going to cause your bullpen to unravel so mightily that it gives up eight runs, mostly after two outs were recorded?
Matt Garza was watching that game from the bench. The game was started by Rodrigo Lopez.
With a re-emphasis of all the preambles above, this is really, really bad.
Everyone who is even remotely tapped into the Cubs’ universe knows Rodrigo Lopez was the starter in that game. It was the most talked about game for the Cubs in the last couple months, and it was nationally televised.
Worse, the incorrect fact is set alongside quotes from Garza, as though the reporter and Garza were chatting about his poor outing in that game. It’s the kind of mistake that isn’t completely innocuous, like saying Garza gave up four hits in a game when he actually gave up five. Neither is it particularly excusable – a mere counting of games would have told Wittenmyer that something must be off, unless the Cubs are now going with a four-man rotation.
I expect that the mistake will be corrected in due time, and most Sun-Times readers won’t even know there was ever an issue (unless, of course, the mistake made it into the print edition as well, in which case, at least 10 people will know there was an issue).
But it might be time to invest in a fact checker.
And, in case the article is edited before you have a chance to click on the link, here’s a screenshot with a helpful edit:
UPDATE: Thankfully, 45 minutes after this post went up, the Sun-Times edited their article (you’re welcome) to remove the above reference, and appended the article with this note at the end: “An earlier version of this story included a passage indicating that Matt Garza pitched on Saturday. He did not appear in Saturday’s game.” Most publications simply would have removed the incorrect information and moved on. I actually think this is a pretty classy move by the Sun-Times. Good work.